Got summer plans? Let your kids cook you out of a job

Summer vacation strikes fear in the heart of so many parents.

How many camps can I send them to?

How many times will I have to hear, “I’m bored!”?

How much food am I going to have to feed them?

Well, I can’t tell you how many camps are appropriate.

I also can’t entirely dispel the “I’m bored” whine, though I would be wildly rich and adored by all parents if I could.

I can help you with the feeding though. Not the grocery buying, mind you, but the actual preparing and feeding of children.

This activity will not only give your children something productive to do this summer, but it will also teach them some good old-fashioned life skills. Can you guess? Why, cooking, of course!

When my oldest daughter was about 11, I signed her up for an online cooking class. Every week we watched a video together, printed out the recipe, and made an entire meal. Together.

And now? She’s a great cook! She cooks dinners, lunches, and desserts. She’s a really great dessert chef. Need cookies for a meeting tomorrow? Bam! She bakes them. She’s even made a little money on the side baking for friends’ parties.

Now, sure, I could have taught her to cook all by myself without a video course, but here’s the thing. We would have been cooking my way. While I know my way is the highway, that doesn’t mean I could effectively translate it all to her without just pushing her out of the way and doing it myself. Ha!

The video course we took started out with basics, like measuring flour, and proceeded to cooking eggs, quiche, burgers, and even roasting a chicken. Yep, I can call ahead and have dinner waiting when I get home. Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Better than a restaurant!

Jealous? Don’t be. Because you can do it, too! The video course that we took all those years ago is sadly retired, but Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has produced an outstanding video series for kids. Kids Cook Real Food is a self-paced course that you can take with your children.

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If you’re not ready for your child to take over the kitchen with a whole meal, that’s fine. Katie’s course still teaches younger children how to become helpers in the kitchen. Yeah, like she teaches them how to cut vegetables. I know giving a child a knife is heat-attack inducing, but my kids could peel carrots and potatoes by the time they were five. There’s really not much chance of them cutting off a finger with a vegetable peeler. And enlisting their help early makes working in the kitchen a fun game. It invests them in dinner time, so they are often eager to eat what they’ve helped prepare.

Let’s look at the pros for kids cooking:

  • fewer fights over eating a meal,
  • help preparing a meal,
  • time spent together making memories, and
  • imparting real life skills they will use the rest of their lives (a future spouse will think you’re the best mother-in-law ever!).

The series is divided into three parts: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. They will start out learning how to measure ingredients, making a salad, and blending spice mixes. Then, they’ll move on to making homemade salad dressings, cooking rice, and browning ground beef. We’re getting crazy here! Before long, they’re sautéing vegetables, crushing garlic, and making a cheese sauce. Can you believe it?

There are eight weeks of Kids Cooking classes of taught for three different age levels. More than 30 kitchen skills with more than 45 videos are taught throughout the series. This is a VERY in-depth series.

I seriously can’t think of any reasons to not teach your kids to cook. Sure, the kitchen may be a bit messier, but think of this as an investment. One day, you will have worked yourself out of a job.

Personally, I’m looking forward to sitting on the couch and yelling into the kitchen demanding to know when dinner will be ready.

In addition to the kids cooking class, Katie offers a Knife Skills class. Sooner or later, everyone has to learn to handle a knife. Most of us do it by trial and error. Instead of learning the hard way, this course teaches knife safety and quick and effective ways to dice up veggies. 

Need something to do this summer that’s fun and productive? Kids Cook Real Food is just the ticket. You don’t have to ship them off to camp or constantly fix them something to eat.


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